Baby boy beaten; mother defends accused father

by: Kevin McCarty Updated:


An 18-year-old Tacoma father accused of assaulting his 7-day-old son was arrested Tuesday after a KIRO 7 viewer saw a story about a police search for him on TV.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Joshua Sullivan, 18, was caring for his newborn son, Josh Junior, in late May and told investigators he became frustrated and admitted shaking the boy. But the mother of the boy told KIRO 7 she doesn't believe Sullivan had anything to do with the child's injuries.

"I don't think he did it at. Because he's a really good father," said Amanda Kassabaum.

According to the affidavit, the grandparents of the boy noticed the child had a swollen left eye on May 22, and then noticed swelling in his right eye the next day. The infant was taken to Mary Bridge Children's hospital in Tacoma and doctors there notified Tacoma police.

Charges state the injuries observed on the boy by physicians were "obvious bruising around the mouth, bruising on the left cheekbone, his lip was bleeding, bleeding from the umbilical cord, bruising on the left forearm, bruising on the mid-back, and bruising on the left inner ear."

Further examinations revealed "subdural hemorrhage and cerebral edema did not occur secondary to medical problems or complications." The child survived the injuries but his current condition is not included in available court documents.

Tacoma police detectives who interviewed Sullivan said he admitted becoming frustrated with the boy while feeding him around 3 a.m.

According to court documents, a detectives asked Sullivan, "You think you shook him?" The defendant did not verbally respond, but did move his head up and down in a nodding motion.

"How long was he shaken?" the detective asked, to which the defendant responded, "Not long ... up and down the stairs."

The affidavit states Sullivan "suggested" the boy hit his head on a wall when he was holding him and that Sullivan was frustrated because the newborn was "fussy." Sullivan stopped answering questions and asked for an attorney, according to the affidavit.

He was not immediately arrested and the investigation continued, resulting in an arrest warrant issued Friday.

Kassabaum told KIRO 7 that the newborn is out of the hospital and in foster care. She blamed Josh Jr's injuries on two other family members, a man and a woman that she claimed were taking care of him at around the same time, saying she was told the couple got into a fight, "that they were arguing, she threw a candle at him and hit my baby."

Kassabaum said she and Sullivan are now engaged and that he has known and cared for two other children from a previous relationship for months without incident. "He's a really good dad to the other two. Why would he do it to this one?" Kassabaum asked.

Sullivan was arrested at a motel in south Tacoma on Tuesday after a KIRO 7 viewer saw coverage of the police search for him on TV, recognized him, and contacted police.